Long journey for Langley father fighting extradition
The many weeks on the road caught up with Langley dad José Figueroa and his son José Ivan during a recent appearance at Montreal’s Concordia University to talk about his battle with Canadian immigration authorities.
A photo posted on Facebook shows the Figueroas asleep on a couch, taking a little time to rest.
“We [needed] to recharge our batteries,” the elder Figueroa said.
In March, father and son left home and headed east to campaign against his deportation.
Figueroa, who has lived in Langley for 13 years with his wife and three Canadian-born children, was ordered to leave Canada because of his involvement as a student with the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) during the civil war in El Salvador.
The FMLN has since formed the government of El Salvador by winning a democratic election, but under the zero-tolerance rules introduced after the 9/11 tragedy, it didn’t matter.
Because elements of the FMLN were linked to violent acts during the fight to overthrow a government the immigration commissioner called a “repressive regime that needed to be changed,” that was enough to make Figueroa unacceptable for Canadian citizenship.
The Immigration and Refugee Board commissioner agreed that Figueroa was never involved in anything violent, but ordered his deportation anyway in May of 2010.
Figueroa has been told it will be seven to nine years before there is a ruling on his application to the ministry of public safety for “ministerial relief” that would allow him to remain in Canada.
He is hoping to convince the ministry to make a quicker decision.
Father and son rode the bus and sometimes hitch-hiked to Ottawa, making stops along the way to speak to supporters, many of them immigrants from El Salvador.
A video posted by José Ivan shows pictures of their appearances in Regina, Hull, Montreal London and Ottawa, where they were granted a meeting with the El Salvadoran embassy.
In Regina, the younger Figueroa addressed an estimated crowd of 400 people at a church, one of many large audiences that turned out to hear them speak.
Father and son also did several radio interviews.
“The trip has surpassed our expectation,” Figueroa said.
“This trip has been overall an extraordinary experience for both of us.”
They were unable to get a meeting with the federal minister of immigration because of the sudden federal election, but were optimistic they will get a meeting when the ministers get back to their offices.
While in Ottawa, the Figueroas posed in front of the parliament buildings with banners that read “stop persecuting immigrants” and “stop wasting taxpayer’s money.”
Figueroa expressed gratitude for the support they have received, including shelter, transportation, and food during their nearly two-month odyssey.